Huckfest 2015

 

The Hood River Huckfest is an annual locally hosted event for kiters of the Columbia Gorge, attracting riders from all over the world to Rufus, OR. The event turns a bland pile of rocks by the river into a bustling scene of kiters boosting as big as the wind will let them.

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Riders meeting

The forecast lined up for the last day of the event window (Sunday the 19th) for a steady increase in knots as the day went on. The wind crept to rideable 14m status and by 2pm the first heat was on! To affirm the start of the contest, riders had to reach a minimum of 10 ft measured by the WOO. With devices collected and data downloaded, Alex Bloechinger took the first heat with 16.5ft.

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Some light winds in the early heats.

Heats ran for 10 minutes and were all about going big – style and maneuvers appreciated. The Columbia river is not known for steady winds, so it was up to the competitors to find the sweet spots where the wind was gusting and the chop was just right. Riders were all over the river, jumping and timing that perfect moment. Some were boosting close to shore, sending spectator’s heads towards the mountain tops.

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Because the height at which you see someone jump is relative to your distance from them, we cannot trust our eyes. (Check out our blog post on How Not to Measure Jump Height ) This is where WOO comes in, and why the organizers of Huckfest put it in our hands to deliver the data.

With heats running in succession of each other, the contest was non stop and the data kept rolling in. Spectators could stay tuned to the results via the WOO Kite app. Every rider’s session was posted through the Hood River Huckfest contest account for all to see and track.

Riding at your peak performance is about mind, body, and gear. Fine tuning your set up and knowing what takes you to the moon and how to do it is key. Some riders took to the water on conventional twin tips and straps, some in boots to hold their edge just a little harder, and riders such as Adam Withington, Andrew McManus and Cynthia Brown on foils to ensure a smooth take off.

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Andrew McManus was sending his foil at Huckfest, flyyying down the river.

Competitors were going harder and bigger as the heats progressed and the winds picked up. Jumps of over 30 feet became the norm in round 2 and we were starting to see mid to high 30 foot jumps and a massive 45 footer from Adam Withington. Heat 4 of Round 2 saw 3 out of 4 riders boosting over 40ft! The battle for Huckfest Champion was on.

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DJ Guacamole going for it

The women’s final came down to Katie Potter, Colleen Carroll, Laura Maher, Tonia Farmen, Cynthia Brown, and Rachel Callahan with 4 out of 6 boosting over 30ft. Colleen Carroll hucked a massive 37.7ft jump – breaking the highest jump recorded by the WOO for a woman kiteboarder!

The steady increase in wind proved to be ideal in the final heat with the wind at its peak. The men’s final came down to Adam Withington, Mike Haase, Vetea Boersma, Ewan Jaspen, DJ Guacamole, and Philipp Schonger. 40 footers were essential for champion status. 3 out of 6 riders reached over 40ft with the other 3 not far behind.

In the end, Ewan Jaspen took the top spot with 45.5ft and 10 seconds of airtime! Competition was tight, and strategy was important. In his words:

“The Huckfest this year was a tricky one, we didn’t have super strong winds so it was tough to figure out what technique was the best for going big!  It was averaging 20-25 knots so for most of my heats I decided to take a 14m out to be properly maxed. This worked okay and got me to the final, but it wasn’t really fast enough to give me the height I wanted. In the final it was all about tactics. I used my 12m Torch, which was the perfect balance between flying speed and power. Other competitors chose different techniques, some on 10-11m’s, Adam Withington was going huge on his 15m and foil board, and there was also another couple of 12m’s

The jump that won me the final ended up being the highest of the event and also had the longest hang time. The 10 second hang time was what really surprised me. I figured out that the wind was slightly stronger closer to the Washington side of the river, and the cliffs nearby provided a bit of an updraft that would sometimes give you that little bit extra lift. On that jump, I just went as fast as possible and sent it off some chop, all the way to 13.9m. Just after the peak, I pulled an early downloop which gave me a lot of lift, allowing me to loop the kite several more times and keeping me in the air for 10 seconds and landing smoothly.” – Ewan Jaspen

Huckfest 2015 was a day full of great vibes, awesome MCing, good winds, and everyone getting their WOO on!

A big thanks to Mike Duhaime and everyone who helped put the event together!

Men’s Final:
1 Ewan Jaspen – 45.5 ft, 10s
2 DJ Guacamole – 45.1 ft, 5.9s
3 Adam Withington – 40 ft, 6.3s

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Left to Right: DJ Guacamole, Ewan Jaspen, Adam Withington

 

Women’s Final:
1 Colleen Carroll – 37.7ft, 4.7s
2 Cynthia Brown – 32.6 ft, 6.1s
3 Laura Maher – 32.1 ft, 4.7s

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Left to Right: Cynthia Brown, Colleen Carroll, Laura Maher
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Huckfest 2015 post awards photo!